The hCG Diet is Basically Starvation

The latest diet craze includes starving PLUS injecting yourself with pregnancy hormones.  What will they think of next?

Read a bit about the diet, the ‘science’ behind it and why it is not an effective solution for weight loss.

The madness is the hCG diet…it’s basically starving, plus putting weird hormones in your body

hCG is the hormone found in pregnant women…you know, the one that is thought to cause morning sickness. Some (possibly questionable) research was done showing that this hormone could help obese people lose weight, and now is the latest fad diet.

The diet has people eating about 500 calories per day (read: starvation) and getting injections of the pregnancy hormone hCG.  The hormone is said to help reduce appetite so the dieter doesn’t know they are only eating 500 calories per day.

Exercise whilst on the diet is discouraged as it ‘may increase hunger’.


If someone could possibly stick to eat 500 calories per day, they would of course lose weight, even without exercise.  Even a thin female leading a mainly sedentary life needs about 1800 calories per day to maintain her current weight.  Assuming this, she would lose about 2.5 per week initially PLUS whatever she lost in fluids…and that could end up being a lot.

Sounds great, right?  However, not all of this is fat.  Most of it is fluid.  Losing pounds in fluids isn’t really the weight loss most people are looking for…fluids come back eventually.  Also, a significant part of weight loss, especially with such a calorie reduction and no exercise, is muscle.  Muscle is what makes people look good and healthy, and this is what most people are striving for.

Eating so few calories, your body is basically acting like it is fasting.  You will be tired, very tired, achy…and if it goes on for to long, you will possibly lose hair and suffer other ill effects while your body compensates for the calories reduction.

Why fasting (and the hCG diet) won’t work for weight loss

Extreme calorie reduction doesn’t work because your body thinks it is starving and takes preparations against this.  Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is lowered, meaning you have less energy and your body will start cutting out non-essential processes (e.g., growing hair) to compensate.  Because your BMR is lower, once you start eating more resume eating a normal amount of calories again, you start packing on the pounds until your body readjusts.

In a study, it was shown that people who received saline injections lost no more weight than those who received hCG injections, suggesting that they do not help curb appetite.

Furthermore, hCG is not FDA approved for weight loss. It could potentially be illegal to obtain hCG for this purpose.


As with any fad diet…this is just not sustainable or healthy.  It is not realistic to eat only 500 calories per day.  It is stupid to inject yourself with pregnancy hormones.  What happened here is that someone bastardized some science to make a seemingly effortless diet to take people’s money away from them.

Here are some good tips on healthy weight loss.  No quick fixes!

Photo credit: puuikibeach

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4 thoughts on “The hCG Diet is Basically Starvation”

  1. Your analysis is weak, you really don’t even need to write something like this as it is not only weak, but not well researched or even thought out.

    One, the questions about this diet are multiple but start with whether or not you actually can “starve” when you have adequate fat stores to burn and whether the hCG has any determination on the rate or type of fat that is burned.

    First, most people that need to lose weight will actually burn excess fat (this is obvious, it is the reason the body stored it in the first place) and yes the body will burn some muscle as does every diet – but the old studies showed it was comparable to other low calorie diets.

    The 14 actual studies (all outdated) also showed no difference between low calorie diet and low calorie with hCG. Having said that, clearly many people on this diet have experienced a perceived difference – especially related to hunger. Whether that is true is unknown and may vary by person. The creator noted that the you are adding 500 calories in food and getting an additional 1-2,000 calories from the fat that is being burned. This is likely true, although “when” it becomes true in the 21 or 43 day diet as you switch from water (typically all lost in the first few days) to true fat burning is not known.

    The overall conclusion is that we don’t really know. The “starving” conclusion is just not true. In addition, the dangers are likely small as this diet is conducted for short time periods. If it can kick start a program, reset caloric intake, or even does anything close to what the supporters say, it may be an overall net benefit and may be very powerful for folks who do not perform well on long-term/slow-loss plans.

    Lastly, please think and do some research before writing object opinion.

  2. The science behind the diet tells us that with hcg in your system, needed nutrients will be taken from your stored fat. You don’t have to inject hormones, you can take homeopathic drops which mimic the effect of the injections without taking hormones. I’ve introduced many, many people to this program and almost all kept off the weight. It’s not starvation; most people couldn’t adhere to it otherwise – and they certainly wouldn’t maintain their weight. It is reported that nearly 50% of Americans will have diabetes by 2020. Which is worse? Diets always come under attack but some of them work, and its life changing. Learn more at Might save a life.

  3. I lost 17 pounds during the 21 day P2 period. I am a firm believer that this works, despite what anyone says about you starving yourself. Many friends and family thought I was nuts injecting myself with this stuff, but diet and exercise alone couldn’t shed the pounds I was looking to get rid of.

    After research online, I eventually bought my supplies from I think it was the cheapest online that I could find and I received the product in about 2 weeks. Personally, if you do decide to take the risk and try the hcg diet I would go with the injections versus the drops because from my research sometimes the drops aren’t always absorbed when you hold them under your tongue. And they aren’t the greatest tasting either. In 3 short weeks I lost the weight I wanted, without feeling “starved”, so each person has to decide what’s right or wrong for themselves.

  4. Your article way off base and lacks accurate reporting. I read hardly a grain of fact throughout most of the article. Talk with an expert. Valerie Donaldson, MD comes to mind.
    Call her and get the facts. . 412 767-9890.

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